Army chief cordons off Libya's volatile 'oil crescent'

Move comes following last week's clashes between Tobruk-based army and militias based in Benghazi

Army chief cordons off Libya's volatile 'oil crescent'

World Bulletin / News Desk

Libya’s self-proclaimed national army led by commander Khalifa Haftar barred citizens on Monday from entering the country’s “oil crescent”.

The oil crescent region stretches from Libya’s eastern city of Ras Lanuf to the north-central city of Sirte and down to the southern Jafrah region.

The restriction was announced in a Monday statement issued by the General Command of Haftar’s Tobruk-based military forces.

According to the statement, the move comes amid plans for a wide-ranging military operation aimed at restoring areas captured late last week by the Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB).

The BDB is a militia drawn up last summer with the aim of supporting the Shura Council of Benghazi -- comprised of revolutionaries who fought the Gaddafi regime in 2011 -- against forces loyal to Haftar.

“We call upon all citizens… to abide by the restrictions on movement imposed on the areas stretching from Ras Lanuf to Sirte and south to Jafrah," the statement read.

It went on to note that the restriction had come into force early Monday morning. It did not state how long the restriction on movement would remain in effect.

Last Friday, BDB fighters attacked pro-Haftar forces in Es Sider and Ras Lanuf -- both of which are located in the oil crescent -- and captured significant territories in the region.

At least 16 pro-Haftar troops were killed in the fighting, according to a Libyan medical source who spoke to Anadolu Agency on Saturday.

Last September, Haftar’s forces captured the Es Sider, Ras Lanuf, Brega and Zueitina oil ports, all of which are located in eastern Libya.

The energy terminals at Es Sider and Ras Lanuf are two of Libya's largest, with a combined production capacity of some 600,000 barrels of oil per day.

Libya has been wracked by turmoil since 2011, when a bloody uprising ended with the ouster and death of longtime strongman Muammar Gaddafi after 42 years in power.

In the wake of the uprising, the country’s stark political divisions yielded two rival seats of government -- one in Tobruk and the other in Tripoli -- and a host of competing militia groups.

In an effort to resolve the political deadlock, Libya’s rival governments signed a UN-backed agreement in late 2015 establishing a government of national unity.

The Tripoli-based unity government, however, has yet to apply its governing writ across the battle-scarred North African country.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Mart 2017, 16:54